Top Performer - Darren Maddy August 16, 2006

King of the hit and giggle

This week's Top Performer is Darren Maddy



Darren Maddy: Mr Twenty20 himself © Getty Images

The fourth Twenty20 finals day at Trent Bridge was its usual blend of razzle and dazzle, with stand-out performances popping up in all sorts of unlikely places - from the Sugababes to Stuart Broad, via the Sussex Shark, the runaway winner of the mascots race. But the main man of the day was an entirely predictable character. "Mr Twenty20" himself, as David Lloyd has dubbed him.

In this year's final qualifying match, Darren Maddy became the first player to pass 1000 runs in this newest form of the game, and on Sunday, in the final against Nottinghamshire, under the floodlights and in spite of steady rain, he anchored Leicestershire's innings to perfection, batting straight through for an unbeaten 86 from 61 balls, with four sixes and six fours.

Maddy never quite made the grade in his three Test and eight one-day appearances at the end of the 1990s, in spite of a work ethic that might, in this day and age, have earned him further opportunities. But at the age of 32, Maddy has found his niche - a form of the game that suits his competitive nature, his outstanding fielding and useful seam bowling, and could even earn him a wild card role in the inaugural Twenty20 World Championships, when they are held in South Africa next September.

Maddy is not the only cricketer who wishes that Twenty20 had been a staple part of his professional diet many years ago. Take Justin Langer, for instance, who became a high-profile convert during his five-week stint with Somerset this week, in spite of the fact that Australia as a whole remains sceptical of the format. Other thirtysomethings, such as Mark Ramprakash and Graeme Hick, have also flourished on a form of the game that rewards strokemakers who back their abilities.

Maddy's final-winning performance was a classic of its mini-genre, as he demonstrated how briskly your runs can come in Twenty20 even when it seems you are taking a measured approach. He set his stall out to bat through the innings, scoring 31 runs in singles alone as he rotated the strike expertly, but remained ever mindful of the need to cash in when the loose delivery came along. That he did to thrilling effect, invariably following one boundary with another in the same over as he took the rattled bowlers to task.

Leicestershire have never yet failed to reach the Twenty20 finals day, and now they have become the first team to win the cup twice, emulating their first success in 2004. Maddy has been an integral part of that record, having reinvented his game with reverse-sweeps, reverse-hooks and all manner of unconventional embellishments, to ensure sell-out crowds at Leicestershire's otherwise unfashionable Grace Road. On current evidence, he's set to continue the entertainment for several seasons yet.

The numbers

Maddy has now scored 1111 runs in 35 Twenty20 games, at an average of 35.83. It'll be a while before he faces his 1000th ball in the form of the game, however. To date, he has faced just 802, which equates to a strike-rate of 138.52. He has a highest score of 111, and nine other half-centuries to his name.

What he says

"I enjoy playing all formats but this competition, with the crowds coming out to watch, gives you a chance to show off your skills.You don't get the chance to do that very often unless you're playing for England or you make a Lord's final. That's the attraction, when you do have a good day lots of people are there to watch it and that gives you a real buzz."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo